Vanessa the green sea serpent basks in the sun from Memorial Day to Labor Day in a shallow pond off Beach Road. In the past three decades, she has had babies, nearly drowned in Hurricane Bob and posed for countless photos. And this summer, she has a book.
On the day Jennifer Tseng’s daughter was born, her father called her at the hospital. He called to congratulate her, but also to tell her he was having health problems which at the time were unknown. The illness turned out to be terminal cancer.
Red Flower, White Flower is Ms. Tseng’s first book of poetry since that phone call. In it she looks at the intersection between the extreme emotions that came in the years after her daughter’s birth, and the ways that these emotions converge.
There are beetlebung trees and pinkletinks to identify, a heath hen sculpture to find and constantly changing landscapes to behold at either end of the Island. The Vineyard is a place of natural discovery and a new field guide hopes to capture just that.
At age 81 Oak Bluffs poet laureate Michael Achille prefers the quiet side of inspiration. As for advice on the poetic life, he says, “you have to be a real feeling person and just have an interest in things.”